Have you noticed how quickly people are speaking these days? Do their words seem more like gibberish than English? Have you had to ask them to repeat themselves not twice but three times? If so, as surprising as it may sound, you may be suffering from hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a healthy and natural part of aging. According to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders, one in three people between 65 and 74 suffers from hearing loss. If you are older than 75, the likelihood of hearing loss increases by up to 50%. But how do you know you’re hard of hearing?
If you are not sure where you stand within those statistics, answer the questions1:
- Do you sometimes feel embarrassed when you meet new people because you struggle to hear?
- Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty understanding them?
- Do you have trouble hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
- Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
- Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
- Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
- Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
- Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
- Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
- Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?
If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, consider having your hearing checked by a healthcare provider. The loss of hearing increases the risk of depression, isolation, and is even linked to cognitive decline.
Fortunately, by having your ears checked and treated, you can significantly improve cognitive performance, like your memory. Many professionals can help like your primary care physician or an audiologist. Still, if you would prefer to stay home and take the test, there are options. The National Institutes of Health is offering AARP members a free telephone hearing test. This test is a scientifically validated hearing screen test, but it can only be taken for free once a year, so make it count! Remember, preventative medicine is the best medicine.
If you would like any additional information on age-related hearing loss, visit NIDCD’s directory of organizations that provide information on communication disorders.
1 The questionnaire above was adapted from Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433.